Now when I was a young man, I carried my pack.
And I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murray's green basin
To the dusty outback,
I waltzed my matilda all over.
Then in nineteen fifteen, my country said son
It's time to stop rambling,
There's work to be done.
So they gave me a tin hat,
And they gave me a gun,
And they sent me away to the war.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda,
As the ship pulled away from the Quay
And amidst all the tears,
Flagwaving and cheers
We sailed off for Gallipoli

Well I remember that terrible day
When our blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk he was ready
Oh he primed himself well.
He rained us with bullets,
And he showered us with shells.
And in five minutes flat,
We were all blown to hell
Nearly blew us back home to Australia.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda,
When we stopped to bury our slain.
And we buried ours and the Turks buried theirs,
And it started all over again.

Those who were living,
Just tried to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks,
I kept myself alive,
While around me the corpses piled higher
Then a big Turkish shell,
Knocked me arse over head
And when I awoke in my hospital bed,
And saw what it had done,
Then I wished I was dead.
I never knew there were worse things than dying.

For no more I'll go Waltzing Matilda,
All around the green bush far and near
For to hump tent and pegs
A man needs both legs
No more Waltzing Matilda for me.

They collected the wounded
The crippled, the maimed,
And they shipped us back home to Australia.
The armless, the legless
The blind, the insane.
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla
And when the ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where me legs used to be.
And thanked Christ there was no one there waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda,
As they carried us down the gangway.
But nobody cheered,
They just stood there and stared,
Then they turned all their faces away

So now every April,
I sit on my porch,
And I watch the parade pass before me.
I see my old comrades,
How proudly they march.
Renewing their dreams of past glories
I see the old men, all tired, stiff and sore
The weary old heroes of a forgotten war
And the young people ask,
What are they marching for?
And I ask myself the same question.

And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men still answer the call
But as year follows year,
More old men disappear
Someday no one will march there at all.

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a waltzing matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard
As they march by the billabong
Who'll come a-waltzing matilda with me?


Lyrics submitted by mynamesnotbill

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda song meanings
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